“They grow fast, one day she’s your little princess/ Next day she talking boy business, What is this/… I ain’t tryna mess your thing up/ I just want you to dream up” –Nas, “Daughters”
VIBE Magazine used to publish a column in which Bobbito Garcia played several records for a celebrity and the celebrity would give his or her opinion on each song.
It was called “Bobbito Plays The Tracks, [Insert celebrity NAME here] States The Facts.” A long and clunky title for a column, but it was from a classic era, where the rules were being written and rewritten.
When I became Music Editor of Vibe in 2003, Bobbito was still playing the tracks. Sadly, not any more. But I was heartened tonight when I was taking the long ride up the NJ turnpike (from Exit 5) and my teenaged daughter commandeered the radio. She dug into her iTunes and showed me a few things.
1. That her musical preferences are different than my own, but our tastes are not totally incompatible. Turns out the apple doesn’t fall fall from the tree after all.
2. The child has a pretty diverse playlists, which I imagine is on par with the younger generation.
3. Most importantly, she showed me how she made all my digital dollars disappear (Singles are up from .99 to NOW 1.29! Damn you iTunes, hello spotify)
While I’m a rap fan, my daughter is into indy, alternative and a few other sub genres of music. She’s a fan of Panic! At The Disco. I’m more likely to panic at any disco in which her faves are playing.
But the ride, in which she played iPod DJ, played out like a version of Bobbito’s classic–now discontinued–column. A real life remix, if you will: ”Daughter Plays The Tracks, Daddy States The Facts”
1. Sugraland “Stay”
This is a country record, however pop it has become. I know little about country but I do know what I like in country music and that’s a little twang, a little attitude and an acoustic guitar. None of this cowboy hat-pop that passes for country today.
While I know this song is decorated with Grammy awards and accolades, I don’t feel the emotion the song is meant to convey. Obviously, it wasn’t aimed at me (and I would think not for a teen girl, either. egads), but I should still be able to feel the pain in the singer’s dilemma. But the daughter loves it, so whatevs.
2. Kyle Andrews “You Always Make Me Smile”
The remix, which is what I actually heard, can be found here (scroll down).
This was my favorite of them all. The lyrics are dreamy and sincere. Simple and plain. But it’s a trippy tune, a sonic contradiction. With all the blips and digital farts from computer synths fighting for attention, the song just toys with my senses. I can get with Kyle Andrews, he doesn’t overdo the personality thing, but his charisma screams without him having to yell. My daughter is onto something with this Kyle Andrews dude. (She also played another song from Andrews called “Sushi.”)
3. Black Keys “Howlin’ For You”
I know the Black Keys, that is to say, I’ve heard their name many times and recognize that the group is a big deal. But never really listened. This group has a funky type sound, a soul connection. It’s the type of song you know is going to get into you if you let it. And you can see the fun they would have performing it live. But it doesn’t grab me from one listen. It says, quality. It says talent. It says, let me hear what else they’ve got. Good on the daughter.
4. Crystal Castles Ft. Robert Smith of the Cure ”Not In Love”
This is like the throwback to the 80s which makes me think of my childhood. Back then so many groups were like this. Wham!, Boy George, Tears For Fears. Not something I would listen to today, but my early teenage self might have grooved to this here. Or watched the Pretty In Pink crew do that funny step from the bleachers at the high school dance. Or I might have said to hell with it and grabbed the local MC and human beat box for a hallway rap cypher while we waited out this song. My daughter, she might be partying with the Pretty In Pink crowd.
5. Benjamin Francis Leftwich “Atlas Hands”
Benjamin Francis Leftwich is the timeless indy rock or folk or whatever it is. It is sleepy music from a bygone era that refused to be bygone. There is talk of stars and water in the sea and an implied sense of otherworldliness. I can squint real hard and almost feel it’s deep and groovy appeal but in 2012 it feels out of place.
However, there are those (ahem, daughter?) who keep the faith.
6. We Are Trees “I Don’t Believe In Love”
My dear daughter seems to really-really like this group. They are indeed musically tight and they have the right elements. The song progresses and charges. I can imagine the group performing this song live. I can see the guitars going frantic, a sweaty stage filled with devoted musicians.
But tonight is the closest I’ll get to that show. I would rather listen to them in wailing about in my daughter’s iPad as we cruise up the NJTP. And maybe, hear one more song before the last exit. Perhaps something from Nas?
A father can hope.